Protein is getting a lot of attention these days, and I for one am delighted!! A lot of women shy away from protein, believing that it’s for bodybuilders and gym fanatics. Well, that couldn’t be further from the truth! Let’s start with what protein actually is….
Protein is made up of long chains of amino acids, which are widely known as The Building Blocks for life. Imagine them as lego blocks. These amino acids are crucial for everything that goes on in your body, from things such as: skin regeneration and hair growth to muscle and bone repair. In simple terms amino acids are necessary for us to exist as human beings. Pretty deep huh?
Now some amino acids can be made by the body, but some can’t. The ones that can’t are called essential amino acids meaning – you need to get them from your food. Simply put – every meal should include at least some protein.
When starting even a modest exercise routine, muscles and joints will undergo a beating, or what are officially known as “micro tears”. These have to be repaired – and in order to repair them we need to increase our intake of protein. (remember the building blocks for life?)
Overall, the more exercise you do, the more protein you need and that is the key to a toned lean look. Plus, research has shown that if you UP the amount of protein in your diet - it can increase the rate in which the body burns body fat! Whoop!
So, the TOP REASONS to make sure you’re getting enough protein are:
- Protein is more satisfying than carbohydrates and fats so keeps you fuller for longer avoiding you to have those inevitable sugary snacks.
- It helps to preserve muscle mass and aids fat burning.
- Protein is great for post workouts, to help strengthen and repair the muscles.
Your basic sources of protein are:
Eggs, dairy, fish (my fave), nuts, seeds and meat. I also love plant based proteins which are full of good protein and also quinoa – which is one of my personal faves as it is high up on the protein scale – almost up there with milk. It is low in fat, but it does contain all important omega‑3 fats. Tempeh, spirulina, hemp seeds, lentils and beans are also high in protein.
But remember that on their own, vegetarian sources don’t have all the essential amino acids that you might find in meat or fish so you have to combine sources. For example : Leafy greens with pulses. The plus side is vegetarian diets tend to be healthier when compared to that of meat eaters but that is a whole other blog!
Lastly, protein shakes. Well, for most people post workout, it’s a convenient and speedy way to re build those micro tears, which help your muscles to repair and become lean.
However a lot of powders contain unhealthy sweeteners and if you are intolerant to dairy, you should stay away from whey. In which case vegan powders are best.